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Jesse: Joey, it's finally happened. He's cleaning liquid soap.

Danny: Don't be silly; I'm just cleaning my rubber gloves.

Joey: Danny, there's no shame in therapy.
Lemongrab: CLEAN this place up or DUNGEON! THREE HOURS DUNGEON!!!

A character who has some sort of obsession with cleanliness as a character trait. It may be a sign of their dedication, obsessiveness, or perfectionism. Generally they'll be one of the few main characters to complain about neatness, unless someone ends up Covered in Gunge or something extremely messy.

This is stereotypical behavior for any character with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In older movies and shows, an obsession with cleanliness can be a metaphor for homosexuality in men. Women who are extremely tidy are usually shown as frigid neurotics who probably deny their husbands sex and their children unconditional love.

For the opposite behavior see Men Can't Keep House and Trash of the Titans. See also Spring Cleaning Fever, Terrified of Germs.

Examples of Neat Freak include:


Anime and Manga

  • Not a main character, but Kimblee in Fullmetal Alchemist (manga only characterization) wears a white suit all the time, and gets upset with a soldier for being blown up while talking to him, not to mention the small amount of blood spatter that ends up on his pristine suit. Kimblee's barking mad.
    • He says that it is expensive at one point in Brotherhood.
  • Roderich Edelstein aka Austria from Axis Powers Hetalia. Being an aristocrat and proud of it, he gets pissed off if seen disheveled. Heck, he even is embarrassed when his wife sees him like this.
    • Ludwig aka Germany is this too. In one strip, Italy was cooking and Germany was next him, cleaning.
  • Takasu Ryuuji from Toradora!. You get no points for guessing what his neighbor, best friend and potential love interest is.
    • Hilariously, Ryuuji's face breaks out into a Slasher Smile most every time he's removing mold from something or other.
  • Death Note illustrator Takeshi Obata thinks of L as this, which is why he chose to depict him as such (the writer, Tsugumi Ohba, didn't tell him to do so) and made him grab things with the tips of his fingers. Does not extend to his personal experience (he might well sleep in his clothes. In his defense, they look comfy.)
    • According to Gevanni's observations, Teru Mikami is also this (which fits his overall personality pretty well).
  • Chiri from Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei has this as her gimmick. And she's been slowly Flanderized from a simple Neat Freak to a near psychopathic Control Freak who'll be perfectly willing to slaughter the cast in order to maintain order. Any scene featuring her as centerfold for the scene will inevitably result in comedy and Nightmare Fuel.
    • In one of the OVAs we're introduced to her older sister, Kitsu Tane, who is her complete opposite and great character foil. We have it explained that in their childhood, Tane chose to become The Pig Pen and personification of the Trash of the Titans trope in order to save the life of their gold fish, which Chiri had decided to clean... With shampoo... Unfortunally for Tane, she had to maintain this behavior for so many years, it eventually got stuck (litterarily, trash seems to follow her and/or spontaneously generate in her vicinity) and now she can't even take properly care of herself... Of course, if she hadn't kept Chiri's obsessive compulsive tidyness in check with her Heroic Sacrifice, Chiri might've doomed humanity by the time the series started.
  • Hazuki Oikawa from Moyashimon. What a disinfectant-happy girl like her is doing at an agricultural college (and hanging out with people who study microorganisms for a living, at that), we're not sure.
  • As an extension of his Super OCD, Death the Kid always makes sure everything is neat, tidy and, most importantly, symmetrical.
  • In the Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Plus manga, Blue Link is revealed to be one of these in an omake. It's impossible for him to sleep at night unless his clothes are neatly folded and in a nice neat stack near where he's sleeping.
  • Ranma ½: Not overly shown to be a Neat Freak, but Ranma finds himself compulsively tidying Hinako-sensei's apartment (twice), forgetting that he sneaked in to steal her fighting fish in manga volume 30, chapter 5.
  • Eiichirou from Baby Steps eats from both sides of his lunch box to keep the sides even, freaks out over the possibility of his food touching, and takes two sets of notes in class: a pristine "master" copy, and a second that he doesn't mind lending out to his less tidy classmates.
  • One chapter of Franken Fran has a woman, raised in extremely sterile circumstances, recruit Fran in an attempt to wipe out cockroaches. She freaks out at the merest hint of contamination. The experiment does not go as planned...
  • In Pokémon: Black & White, Ash and Co. run into a Minccino who is obsessed with cleaning dirty things. It steals Ash's badge case to clean it and most of the episode is revolved around trying to get it back. This proves difficult due to Minccino's elusiveness and speed. Just when it's about to runoff, Bianca, Professor Juniper's lab assistant, pulls out a dirty Pokeball to catch it. Knowing couldn't pass up the opportunity, it decides to clean her Pokeball and ends up getting itself caught.
  • In the Sailor Moon manga Sailor Jupiter is shown to be this, at one point spending two days cleaning her apartment.
  • As is obvious once you get a glimpse of his meticulously clean, almost-empty apartment, Barnaby from Tiger and Bunny does not appreciate clutter. He keeps only the bare minimum furniture; one chair, one small table, one bed etc., and the only "unessential" objects in the living room (the one room we see properly) are a laptop, a television (both of which he uses to research his parents' murder), a family photo and a toy robot (a birthday present from his parents). He also dislikes the thought of anyone visiting his place, worrying that they'll make a mess.
  • Nami Yamigumo of Silent Möbius is the AMP's resident neat freak. Unfortunately for her, most of her teammates are the exact opposite. This is played up in comic Omake strips.
  • Charles and Ray Beams in Eureka Seven keep their ship impeccably clean at all times. One of the first signs of Ray's breakdown after Charles is killed is the fact that the ship has been utterly trashed. Things just get worse from there.


Film

  • Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator dramatizes the extreme, Super OCD variant of this trope.
  • Jack Nicholson's character in As Good as It Gets suffers from the extreme version as a major premise.
  • M-O from WALL-E. "FOREIGN CONTAMINANT"
  • Jacques the French cleaner shrimp from Finding Nemo.
    • Gurgles may also count. He appears to be more of a germophobe than an actual Neat Freak, but when they're deliberately making their tank dirty, he's the most distressed by it. Jacques, aside from some small difficulty fighting his cleaning urges, isn't overly stressed.


Literature

  • Hercule Poirot, though more obsessed with tidying than cleaning.
  • Han Qing-yao from the Ender's Game sequel Xenocide.
  • Aunt March from Little Women. Poor Amy really didn't know what she was getting into when she replaced Jo as her lady-in-waiting, when Beth was sick...
  • Carnifex from the Wild Cards series.
  • Flora Poste. ("I cannot endure messes")
  • Mr. Standish from The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul is an eccentric variant: a clutter-averse man who keeps his phone, intercom, and personal ornaments sealed up inside his desk, leaving every horizontal surface in his office absolutely bare. The picture frame on the wall is empty, and he has to open a desk drawer every time he wants to check his notes.


Live Action TV

  • TV's Ur Example is probably Felix Unger from The Odd Couple.
  • Adrian Monk from his titular series has this as his premise. One episode has him unable to concentrate on a crime scene because a nearby cop's socks don't match.
  • Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Dax likes to move everything in his office over by an inch to drive him nuts.
    • Seemingly everyone in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Whenever anyone notices anything out of place, they point it out instantly, and it always turns out to be a major plot point. Likewise, no messes are ever seen aboard the Starship Enterprise.
      • Hey! They're on a starship; a large one but still a starship. It's a closed environment. Anything that spills and gets left out eventually gets into everything and there are some really high-tech gadgets all over the place that could be adversely affected by being gummed up. It may be that there are some small robotic cleaner-uppers? (a la the Death Star's teeny little droids [1]) tidying things up but it just makes sense that the entire crew is selected for (maybe even bred for) and certainly uber-trained for a high level of cleanliness.
      • Not to mention that it's a military vessel and such standards are usually enforced rather strongly in any navy, sea or space.
  • Boober from Fraggle Rock
    • And Tutter from Bear in the Big Blue House, another Muppet program. Muppet fans have noted a strong similarity between the two. Tutter even has own song about it-- "Why Can't the Dirt Just Leave Me Alone?"
  • Mrs. Benson on ICarly flits between this and Super OCD Depending on the Writer.
  • Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. There's an episode in the first season where, seeing the messy state of across-the-hall-neighbor Penny's apartment, he sneaks over in the middle of the night while she's sleeping to clean.

 Leonard: Sheldon, this is not your home.

Sheldon: No, this is not anyone's "home"! This is a swirling vortex of entropy!

  • James May on Top Gear, who keeps a paintbrush in his car to clean the air vents and gets uneasy when things are out of order. Most likely has some degree of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
    • Mocked by Clarkson via application of a watch bezel. If it's not aligned to the right point he'll forcibly try to sort it out. The result was jokingly compared to Kryptonite.
  • Danny Tanner from Full House is this, so much so the trope could be named after him.
  • Monica Geller in Friends, who (amidst many, many other things) can't sleep after she willingly leaves her shoes in the living room in order to prove she's not as much a Neat Freak as everybody thinks. Everybody's right, of course.
  • Bree Van der Kamp/Hodge, as well as Orson Hodge, from Desperate Housewives.
  • Niles Crane from Frasier.
  • NCIS agent Nikki Jardine was so obsessively germ-phobic that she even turned off Tony DeNozzo with her constant cleaning.
  • Harvey and Val Denton on The League of Gentlemen, to the point where they force Benjamin to clean the cleaning implements.
  • Emma Pillsbury on Glee
  • On Saturday Night Live, one of Phil Hartman's reoccurring characters was the cooking-show host "The Anal-Retentive Chef", who painstakingly cleaned up every last scrap following each step in the recipe of the day.
  • Cat in Lip Service to the point where she is considered autistic.
  • The Mayor often delivers little speeches on the importance of cleanliness (including clean fingernails), keeps thing neatly aligned on his desk, and abhors germs.
  • Jerry on Seinfeld. Whenever it comes up, the other characters make fun of him for it - after all, Men Can't Keep House.
  • Jamie on Myth Busters shades into this at times. One of his trademarks is his always-spotless white shirt.
  • Claireparker from Pixelface. In "Reset", she explains that because everything in her game is so dirty and broken, she feels compelled to keep the console as neat and perfect as possible.


Video Games

  • One of Geary's two personalities in Crash Nitro Kart is this.
  • In The Sims 2, Sims with a high Neatness score will be bugged by messes more than other Sims. The same goes for Sims with the Neat trait in The Sims 3.


Visual Novel


Web Comics


Web Original


Western Animation

  • Edd from Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy.
  • Oh so deliciouslly deconstructed with Bloberta (mom) on Moral Orel. This is her psychological problem. A real one.
  • Mechanicles from the Aladdin Recycled: the Series, had this as a weakness.
  • Ammonia Pine from Darkwing Duck
  • Marge from The Simpsons often displays this trait. In one episode she wins a free housecleaning but wants to pre-clean the house in order to impress the maids.
  • Lemongrab of Adventure Time, who provides one of the page's quotes.
  • Hamton from Tiny Toon Adventures gets special notice considering he's a pig.
  • Dexter's mom in Dexter's Laboratory.
    • The episode "Pslyghtly Psycho" suggests that she is actually germophobic, particularly when her gloves and slippers are removed and she finds herself afraid to even set foot on the carpet barefoot.
  • Jen on 6teen, especially when stressed.
  • Petunia from Happy Tree Friends qualifies, especially considering that dirt in one episode drove her to suicide.
  • Samson from Camp Lazlo.
  • Rarity from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic displays this at times, especially in the episode "Look Before You Sleep". She hates getting dirty, folds bedsheets a precise way, and spends her time picking up and positioning fallen trinkets instead of focusing on the huge tree that has crashed through the window. Her attention to detail helps solve the problem, though.
  • Chuckie from Rugrats is shown to be this way, which is Tommy's breaking point after spending a week with him in one episode. Chuckie ends up taking it to a major extreme in another episode, where he dons a germ-proof "suit" and attempts to force the babies not to play anything to keep clean. Tommy and the twins quickly get him out of that phase.
  • Alfred in Batman the Animated Series. When he and Bruce briefly visit some run-down movie-store, Alfred tries his finger on the counter, reproachfully looks at the dirt it comes up with and then proceeds to wipe the counter clean (well, cleaner) with a cloth.
  • Zim of Invader Zim at one point become this after realizes (incorrectly, by the way) that Earth was covered in germs that could quite possibly kill him. He then goes on a cleaning spree, even going as far as tying Gir onto a tree outside because he was so infested. At the end of the episode, he's seen wearing a "suit" of meat since the meat itself was designed to be sanitized for space travel and, thus, germ-free.
  • Spiffy from The Oddball Couple, the Funny Animal version of The Odd Couple.
  • Rocko from Rocko's Modern Life is a subversion in that while he does like his house clean, he often does let cleaning fall by the wayside. While he does produce Trash of the Titans, he always cleans it up...with hilarious results.

Notes

  1. Actually used to lead troops through the labyrinth that was the Death Star
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